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Married Couple Graduate from Nursing School Together

Submitted by on July 21, 2020 – 2:28 pm


The NECC Knight mascot stands between two recently graduated women holding their diplomas.

Jennifer and Amanda Assenza are a married couple with three young children who graduated from the Nursing Program together this year.

Amanda Assenza and her wife Jennifer of Wilmington, MA have a lot to celebrate this year; both are graduating with degrees in nursing from Northern Essex Community College.

During the virtual graduation ceremony on August 8, Northern Essex President Lane Glenn will share their story, which is an inspiring example of commitment to career and family.

The parents of three-year old twins and a five-year old, both Amanda and Jennifer have been employed as CNA’s while attending nursing school full-time.

When the pandemic struck in March, the dementia unit which Amanda had been working on at the Veterans Hospital in Bedford was transitioned to a COVID-19 unit.

She was now exposed to the virus daily, caring for her elderly patients on an isolated ward—sealed off by zippered doors. For protection, she wore sanitized hospital issue scrubs, an N95 mask, goggles, and a face shield for up to 16-hour shifts.

Jennifer’s parents live with the couple and because Amanda didn’t want to risk exposing her family to the virus, she made the difficult decision to move out of her home. For three months, until the end of May, she slept on an air mattress in an empty office at the Veterans Hospital.

Visits to her children were restricted to outside play, socially distanced and wearing masks. To this day, her children are still asking “Are your hands clean?” and “Do you have the canoli virus on you.”

Thankfully, she never contracted the virus, although she was tested three times.

While caring for her patients, many of whom she comforted as they died separated from family, and trying her best to maintain a relationship with her family, Amanda was also finishing her last semester of nursing school, now offered remotely, due to the virus.

Because of spotty Internet at her temporary home, Amanda made her car a mobile office. She would park in her home driveway for hours at a time to participate in class and take proctored exams.

Amanda is graduating with honors and she credits her wife, the top student in this year’s nursing class, with “making me a better student.”

A former combat medic, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, and the daughter of an ICU nurse, Amanda is confident about her decision to be a nurse, saying “it’s what I always wanted to do.”

After taking their nursing boards this summer, Amanda plans to continue working at the Veterans Hospital and Jennifer will pursue her dream job as a labor and delivery nurse at a Boston hospital.

The two met at Northern Essex, enrolled in the nursing program together, and took every class together. Their commitment to education will continue in the fall when they begin their bachelor’s in nursing online at UMass Boston.

Learn more about the virtual commencement ceremony on August 8 here. 

Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers more than 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Each year, more than 5,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,600 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  For more information, visit the website at or call 978-556-3700.